Offbeat Interview Series with Laura
Laura ‘Lala’ Bechdel
Raised in McCall, Idaho by her parents Les and Susan Bechdel, the founders of Canyons, Laura grew up on and around Idaho’s rivers. She and her younger brother Max learned how to kayak, canoe, sail, ski, climb and bike at a young age. As a teenager Laura joined Canyons trips as a swamper, eventually rowing gear rafts and then ultimately guiding at the age of 18.
In college, her passion for rowing earned her a spot on the crew team at the University of Puget Sound, where she and her teammates rowed themselves to the national championships, several years in a row! Laura also earned herself an NCAA National Athlete award. Post college, Laura spent a few winters teaching English in Ecuador and Peru.
In expanding her guiding career, she landed a position with Arizona Raft Adventures (AzRA), guiding trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. On her very first trip with AzRA in 2009, Laura met the love of her life, fellow guide Neal McAdam.
Now happily married and proud parents of their son Lucas and daughter Ruby, they’ve settled in McCall. Today Laura spends her time being a mom and working for the Alzar school (an outdoor leadership semester school for sophomores and juniors), while also making time to introduce her children to the wonderful world of the outdoors. She still makes time to guide at least 1 or 2 Canyons trips every summer.
If you could be a river superhero, what would you be? ‘Agua’ She-Ra, Princess of Power
What is your favorite dress up theme? Tutus!
What is your ‘go to’ crazy hat night creation? Sarong headwrap
What brought you to Canyons? My Mama and Papa 🙂
How many years have you worked here? 15 or 20 years? Started swamping and learning the ropes in 1995, but my first season as a licensed guide was in 2001
What is your favorite thing about Canyons? The feeling of camaraderie, joy, and awe that guides and guests share as we pass through such amazing natural spaces
If you could describe Canyons in 3 words? Family, fun, home
When you hear the word Idaho, what comes to mind? Big mountains, pine scents, and clear rivers
What are your top three favorite camps? Marble (MF), Survey (MF), Driftwood (MF)
Top three favorite rapids? Pistol (in the sweep boat!), Upper Cliffside (MF), Hancock (MF)
Currently, what is your nemesis rapid? Pinball at low water on the Middle Fork
What river do you want to run that you haven’t yet? The Salt River, or anything in Chile!
What do you consider a ‘real’ job? Something that you love doing, and get paid to do
If you could only have one kayak in your quiver, what would it be and why? Remix 69, great downriver boat and fun to front surf
What is your favorite thing to cook on the river? Fresh pico de gallo or cheesy orzo mac
If you could take a musician or band down the river today, who would it be? Michael Franti!
What is your most memorable swim in a river? Getting pinned in my kayak on the Pacuare in Costa Rica. Luckily, I could get out of my boat (mainly just stuck in very shallow water), which I was eager to do!
What is one of your river rituals or superstitions? That’s between me and the river 🙂
What is your most valued non-river related item that you bring with you on every trip? Dream Journal
What is your favorite Groover spot? Trail camp (MF), down in the rocks!
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